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Williams v. Small

November 3, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Michael M. Anello United States District Judge


[Doc. No. 25]

On September 4, 2009, Plaintiff Stephen Jerome Williams ("Plaintiff"), a state prisoner proceeding pro se, commenced this action seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint on May 12, 2010 [Doc. No. 18]. Defendants R. Johnson, J. Kellerman, T. Diaz, and R. Hopper filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) [Doc. No. 25], joined by Defendants McEwen and Anderson [Doc. No. 30]. Plaintiff filed an opposition to the motion [Doc. No. 31], to which Defendants replied [Doc. No. 33]. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion.


Plaintiff is a prisoner currently incarcerated at Calipatria State Prison, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis on his Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants are a group of correctional officers and supervising administrators at Calipatria State Prison. The following description of events is taken from the pleadings and is not to be construed as findings of fact by the Court.*fn1

On or about February 26, 2009, correctional officers found Plaintiff in possession of a contraband cellular telephone, at which time Plaintiff removed the SIM card from the phone, chewed it, and swallowed it. Defendant Diaz witnessed Plaintiff's actions, and based thereon recommended to Defendant Johnson that Plaintiff be transferred to the Administrative Segregation Unit ("Ad Seg") and placed on "contraband watch."*fn2 Defendant Kellerman approved this suggestion, and Plaintiff was transferred to Ad Seg, where he was processed and strip searched by an unknown officer. According to Plaintiff, the unknown officer gave him two jump suits and ordered him to put on one jump suit facing forward, and the second the jump suit facing backward, "like a makeshift straight jacket." SAC, 4. Plaintiff states that once he had put on the jump suits, the unknown officer used masking tape to wrap his ankles together, cutting off the circulation to his legs. Once taped, the unknown officer shackled Plaintiff with leg irons and used masking tape to wrap Plaintiff's abdominal area, cuffing his hands to a padlocked waist chain.

Plaintiff was then placed in a holding cell, outfitted with a bench mounted to the floor against the back wall, a mattress on the floor, and a bright light which stayed lit at all times. Plaintiff states that the cell had no bed, no sink, no toilet, and no sheets or blankets. The unknown officer advised Plaintiff that he would remain on contraband watch for 72 hours, or until he was able to provide three separate bowel movements. SAC, 5. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to produce a bowel movement and the passage of 48 hours, Plaintiff requested a laxative and was able to produce stool, which upon examination, contained the SIM card he had swallowed. Defendant Hopper refused to release Plaintiff from contraband watch, however, advising him that he still was required to provide a total of three separate bowel movements.

On March 1, 2009, after approximately three days on contraband watch, Defendant Andersen, Associate Warden, toured the Ad Seg facilities. Plaintiff advised Defendant Andersen that he had produced two bowel movements, including one containing the SIM card, and that he had been on contraband watch for more than 72 hours. According to Plaintiff, Defendant Andersen laughed at him and "informed me that she could get me a good job in Silicon Valley" "manufacturing SIM cards." SAC, 6. Plaintiff felt humiliated, and remained on contraband watch for a total of 105 hours.

Because the holding cell had no toilet, Plaintiff states that he was required to use a bucket and a quart sized plastic bottle in order to relieve himself. Because the holding cell had no sink, Plaintiff alleges that he was not able to wash his hands, take a shower, brush his teeth, or wash his face for the entire time he was on contraband watch. Plaintiff states that after 48 hours of confinement in the described conditions he began to experience migraine headaches, neck and back pain, numbness and loss of feeling in his hands and feet, bruising and lacerations on his wrists and ankles, and abdominal cramping. He was also unable to sleep because of the bright light in his holding cell that was kept lit 24 hours per day. Plaintiff complained about his injuries and an unknown registered nurse conducted a visual examination and determined that his injuries were not serious and that he would not be allowed to see a doctor while on contraband watch. SAC, 10.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants deliberately placed him at substantial risk of physical and psychological harm in violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Plaintiff further alleges that the contraband watch policy in place at Calipatria is an "underground regulation" implemented at the direction of the Warden, in violation of California Department of Corrections regulations. SAC, 6; 8.


1. Legal Standard

A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the claims in the complaint. See Davis v. Monroe County Bd. of Educ., 526 U.S. 629, 633 (1999). "The old formula -- that the complaint must not be dismissed unless it is beyond doubt without merit -- was discarded by the Bell Atlantic decision [Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 563 n.8 (2007)]." Limestone Dev. Corp. v. Vill. of Lemont, 520 F.3d 797, 803 (7th Cir. 2008).

A complaint must be dismissed if it does not contain "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 570. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, __ U.S.__, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed. 2d 868 (2009). The court must accept as true all material allegations in the complaint, as well as reasonable inferences to be drawn from them, and must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Cholla Ready Mix, Inc. v. Civish, 382 F.3d 969, 973 (9th Cir. 2004) (citing Karam v. City of ...

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